Mandela says in book he didn't want to be president

Mon Oct 11, 2010 9:39am EDT
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By Marius Bosch

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Nelson Mandela never wanted to become South African president and would have preferred a younger person to become the country's first black ruler, according to a new book.

Mandela says in the book "Conversations with Myself," due to be launched Tuesday, that he only accepted after senior leaders of the African National Congress put pressure on him.

"My installation as the first democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa was imposed on me much against my own advice," Mandela said.

The book, compiled by the Nelson Mandela Foundation from personal letters, interviews and an unpublished sequel to his autobiography, contains a foreword by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Mandela, 92, said he would have preferred to serve the new South African state without holding any position in the ANC or government.

After being put on the carpet by one of the ANC's leaders, he changed his mind, but made clear that he would serve only one five-year term.

Mandela's release on February 11, 1990, after 27 years in apartheid-era jails, set in motion the country's transformation to democracy, which culminated in historic all-race elections in 1994 and his inauguration as the country's first black leader.

Reconciliation between blacks and whites was the cornerstone of Mandela's presidency, which ended in May 1999. But in the book, an important theme is his concern about the effects of his imprisonment on his family.   Continued...